[B-Greek] H AGAPH TOU QEOU

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed Jul 4 04:51:45 EDT 2007


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Seth" <sethvm at gmail.com>
>
> Is there any meaningful difference between the following two phrases?
>
> H AGAPH TOU QEOU and H AGAPH QEOU? The genitive case of QEOU is essentially
> covered in each case, without the need of the article, correct? If so, then
> what's the purpose of the article before QEOU?
>
> Thanks all,
>
> -- 
> Seth Moran

hH AGAPH QEOU does not occur in the GNT (nor in the LXX). I suppose the meaning would be "the love 
of a god" (maybe one of the Greek gods?). The standard reference to God is hO QEOS, so we would 
expect hH AGAPH TOU QEOU for "the love of/for God".

In Acts 7:58 we find PARA TOUS PODAS NEANIOU where you have a genitive noun without the article: At 
the feet of a young man.

The article is not used with a personal name, e.g. hO hUIOS DAVID (the son of David), because a 
personal name is unique and requires no definite article to specify that uniqueness. When the 
article is used with a personal name, the reason is not to indicate definiteness, but it can be a 
discourse feature that relates to the tracing of participants, i.e. now introduced or earlier 
mentioned.

Compare this with hO hUIOS TOU QEOU (the son of God) where the article is always present, because 
QEOS in Greek is not considered a personal name. KURIOS without the article IS considered a proper 
name in the GNT and it corresponds to the personal name of God, YHWH. When KURIOS has the article, 
it refers to the Lord Jesus or any other lord/master. Dr. Richard Brown has written articles about 
this, but let me just give two interesting examples:

Jas 5:10 TOUS PROFHTAS hOI ELALHSAN EN TWi ONOMATI KURIOU
(the prophets who spoke in the name of YHWH)
Jas 5:14 ALEIYANTES AUTON ELAIWi EN TWi ONOMATI TOU KURIOU
(having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord (Jesus))

So, your phrase with KURIOS-YHWH would be hH AGAPH KURIOU. (I said "would" since this phrase does 
not occur in the GNT.) There are many other phrases with KURIOS, e.g. hO AGGELOS KURIOU (The angel 
of YHWH, Mat 1:24), EN TWi NOMWi KURIOU (in the law of YHWH, Luk 2:24), THN hODON KURIOU (The way of 
YHWH, Luk 3:4) etc. The distinction between KURIOS as referring to YHWH and hO KURIOS as referring 
to Jesus as Lord is generally lost in English translations, since both are translated "the Lord".

It is rather complicated, since the occurrence of the article before the genitive also depends on 
the uniqueness of the first noun. For instance, we read EIS TON NAON TOU KURIOU (into the Temple of 
YHWH, Luk 1:9), where I assume the TOU is there because there is only one Temple.

Similarly, a word like MHTHR is unique in a genitive construction, because any person has only one 
mother, e.g. hH MHTHR TOU IHSOU (The mother of Jesus), where the TOU is there in spite of Jesus 
being a personal name, probably because of the uniqueness of the whole expression "mother of Jesus".

The usage of the definite article in Greek is much more complicated than can be covered in an 
e-mail, especially because there is some overlap with English, but also a lot of differences.

Iver Larsen 




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